Improvising - My Life In Music
BOOK REVIEW By Willard Manus

Larry Coryell, one of the finest jazz guitarists of our time, has just published IMPROVISING--MY LIFE IN MUSIC (Backbeat Books), an autobiography that not only deals with his life in a frank, revealing way but offers up much practical advice to would-be musicians, thanks to an appendix containing selected columns he wrote for Guitar Magazine between 1977-89 (plus a CD).

As a kid out of Texas, Coryell went to New York at the age of 22, moved into the Lower East Side, began smoking dope and dropping acid--and working with the likes of saxophonist Jim Pepper and drummer Bob Moses. His prowess soon came to the attention of such stars as Gary Burton, Ron Carter, Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk, from whom he learned this mantra: "Wrong is right, wrong is right," meaning that a musician should play anything he liked--"notes, chords, whatever you want. Just make it work."

Coryell went on to become a star in his own right, collaborating with such biggies as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. He also survived several stormy marriages, battled an addiction to controlled substances, and finally reached a place of contentment and peace thanks to his discovery of Buddhism. "I had skewed values for a long time," he admits, "and I am lucky that I'm slowly coming round to being able to distinguish the real from all the b.s. that permeates everyday life."